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Magellan Spacecraft

planet Venus, radio antenna, detailed maps, orbit, spacecraft

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Magellan (spacecraft), United States space probe that was launched in 1989 and mapped most of the surface of the planet Venus. The Magellan Venus radar mapper provided the first detailed global map of Venusís hidden surface.

Magellan was built mostly from spare parts from other spacecraft. It carried a large dish-shaped radar and radio antenna. Magellan left Earth on May 4, 1989, and reached an orbit around Venus on August 10, 1990. Its goal was to map 70 percent of Venusís surface in great detail. By the time Magellanís main mission ended in September 1992, it had mapped 98 percent of Venus. More than 20 spacecraft visited Venus before Magellan, but Magellan was the first to make detailed maps of almost the entire planet. Magellan burned up in Venusís atmosphere in September 1994.

Contributors

Portree, David S. F., B.A., M.S.

Freelance writer and space historian. Author of "Walking to Olympus: An EVA Chronology".



Article key phrases:

planet Venus, radio antenna, detailed maps, orbit, spacecraft, atmosphere, goal, spare parts, surface, August, September

 
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